How to Clean An Enamel Butcher Tray Watercolor Palette

Butcher tray palette

If you paint with watercolors, you’ve likely tried out a butcher tray palette. Butcher tray palettes are usually made with steel or another metal, coated in a water resistant enamel or porcelain. They’re a great option, because they hold pigment well, don’t stain, and allow for easy mixing.

Many watercolorists leave pigments on their palette between sessions. As the colors dry out, they harden, and can be easily reconstituted the next time you sit down to paint.

If you leave your paints on a butcher tray for weeks or months, though, they might begin to harden. Once this happens, the pigments can be very hard to remove.

Here’s how to clean the enamel on a butcher tray palette.

Start by making sure that your pigments and colors aren’t toxic. Some watercolors are toxic, and you want to avoid cleaning these in a sink that you use for food prep, teeth brushing, etc. In general, you should use a utility or art sink for cleaning up pigments. Either way (but especially if your pigments are toxic), you’ll want to wear gloves for this cleaning step, so the pigments don’t stain you hands.

You also want to make sure your sink can handle the pigments without staining. Again, a plastic utility sink works great.

Turn the water on as hot as you can. Thoroughly wet the stuck on paints. You’ll see that a lot of pigment starts to wash away immediately, assuming your water is hot enough.

Washing away stuck-on pigment on a butcher tray

Make sure not to scald your hands. Work the water across each piece of stuck-on pigment, until they’re all soaked. The colorful runoff water looks pretty trippy, actually!

Next, leave a little water on the tray, and grab a small sponge with a scrubber. Scrub away at each piece of stuck-on pigment to begin to release it. Use bursts of water to wash it away.

Use a scrubber sponge to scrub away at pigment.

If chunks of pigment are still being very stubborn, you can also use a pallet knife or metal scraper to gently lift them off. Make sure not to dig into or scratch the enamel surface of the palette.

Lift up stuck on pigment with a palette knife.

Give the butcher tray a final wash in water, dry it off, and you’re good to keep on painting!

Review of the Hello Baby HB178 Audio Baby Monitor

Lots of people looking for a baby monitor for their nursery look at devices with built-in video–or try to repurpose an IP camera, like the Nest Camera from Google. The issue with standalone video monitors, though, is that they’re relatively easy to hack, the video is usually low quality, and you often have to charge the devices’ portable screens every night. With a Nest camera, you usually have to pull up the video feed on your phone to check in on your nursery.

In many cases, though, you don’t actually need video from your nursery–you just need to be able to hear what’s happening there, so you tell if your baby is crying, your toddler has gotten up and needs help, etc. If you just need a live audio feed from your nursery (or another room in your house), the Hello Baby HB178 is a great option.

The HB178 comes with two units–a transmitter and receiver. You install the transmitter in your child’s room or nursey, and plug it into the wall. It then pairs with a receiver, which you place in your room (plugged into the wall) or carry around the house (with an optional battery). The receiver has a volume setting, as well as an indicator light to show how much sound is coming from your nursery (the device indicates five levels of sound with color-coded LEDs).

From a technical perspective, the HB178 works like a traditional audio baby monitor, but with some major upgrades over the ubiquitous walkie-talkie like devices from the 1980s and 1990s. For starters, the device uses digital audio, so the sound is crystal clear–there’s no crackly static in the background to deal with, or weird phenomena like hearing audio from passing aircraft (which sometimes happened with 1990s-era audio monitors). The audio feed is also encrypted, so people outside your home can’t spy on the sound in your nursery (or so Hello Baby claims).

The HB178 also does a great job of suppressing sound when nothing’s actually happening in your nursery. That means you can have the volume turned up to max, and you won’t hear a lot of background noise or static. I usually set my B178 to nearly full volume. That way, when there actually is sound coming in, it’s quite loud and will definitely wake you up if you’re sleeping. But if all is quiet, there won’t be any crackling or other background sound to disrupt your sleep.

The HB178 is also economical, at around $25 on Amazon as of press time. Another advantage of audio-only transmission is an increased range–the HB178 has an advertised range of 1,000 feet. In practice, I find it’s a bit less than this, but it still has plenty of range to monitor your nursery from across a big house, or even outside in the backyard if you use a battery in the receiver.

If you really want to see what’s happening in your nursery, a video monitor is probably a better bet. I find the best overall solution is to pair the HB178 with a Nest camera. I can then immediately hear if anything is happening in the nursery without having to load up my phone to view the Nest cam. But if I hear something I want to see further, I can always pull up the Nest video feed on my phone or Alexa device and take a closer look.

If you’re looking for a modern take on the traditional audio baby monitor–or if you’re concerned about security and convenience with video monitors–the Hello Baby HB178 could be a great fit.

Nest Cam as Baby Monitor

So how well does the Nest cam work as a baby monitor? The quick answer is “just okay.”

Lots of new parents want a way to monitor their kid’s crib, Pack n Play, etc. There are cheapo standalone video solutions out there on the market, but they’re from companies that don’t usually do video, and it shows in the quality and overall features.

Nest does video really well, so a lot of parents end up using Nest cams as baby monitors.

There are a lot of upsides. Nest cams can see in the dark, have Wi-Fi (so you can see your little one remotely or from any computer or phone), store video history for up to 30 days, and are reasonably priced.

The biggest downside, though, is that in order to view the stream from the camera, you have to pull up your phone or a computer. Dedicated baby monitors usually come with a little video tablet you can carry around. The quality of the tablets aren’t great, but they’re fairly reliable and always ready. If you want to monitor your baby at night with a nest camera, you’d have to leave your phone open and streaming all night.

How well a Nest Cam works for you, then, probably depends on what you want to use it for.   If you want to be able to watch your baby from the computer while you’re in a different room of the house, or you want to have really good nanny cam (ask permission!),  or you just want to check in periodically, Nest is a great baby monitor.  If you want always on video, though, you might want to look at a dedicated baby monitor instead.